Consider private patrols downtown? Absolutely

The city should take a serious and responsible look at hiring a
private security firm to patrol downtown. It appears to be working
in Santa Cruz.
The city should take a serious and responsible look at hiring a private security firm to patrol downtown. It appears to be working in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz has hired three security officers from First Alarm to patrol downtown at a cost of $5,000 per month, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The guards, who are unarmed, handle minor issues and are in regular radio contact with city police. Both Chief of Police Kevin Vogel and Downtown Association President Emily Bernard Coonerty have positive things to say about the results.

Those reviews, viewed in the light of the minimal cost, make the topic worthy of serious consideration. Gilroy has to find ways to get more bang for its buck. If Gilroy Police Officers are too busy to park the car, get out and walk around the downtown area getting to know merchants and trouble spots, then alternatives need to be considered. Friendly, conscientous security guards could be the answer and might be the answer for other problem spots.

How much, for example, did the city spend cleaning up the volumnious, nasty graffiti at the skate park at Las Animas Veterans Park? Thousands, no doubt, in staff time and materials. Perhaps there are ways that a private security firm could augment and assist with making Gilroy a safer and better place to live.

That is the goal: What’s the best way to spend city tax dollars for the benefit of the residents.

With private security, there are no burdensome overtime, benefit or pension costs, yet there would be a professional “force” of additional eyes and ears in contact with our police officers.

At the insistence of the Council, Chief Denise Turner could fashion a Downtown Policing Plan that incorporates the use of security patrols to augment sworn officers and the city could test that plan for six months at little cost.

It sure seems like an opportunity to consider a creative solution to stemming crime in an area that could use extra eyes and ears. A Downtown Policing Plan would put the focus on a specific area and the results could be measured in crime stats and reported to the City Council for review.

At the very least, it’s worth serious consideration. The newly seated City Council must reconsider the same-old, same-old methods in tackling Gilroy’s problems. Common sense and a shortage of cash dictate that.

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